In 2020, many motorcycle riders across the country participated in small, splintered, unofficial runs as COVID-19 wreaked havoc on Our Nation. Like each and every year, they did so in the name of ‘YOU’ – each and every one of our Prisoners-Of-War and Missing-In-Action.
In 2021, we will redo the 33rd RIDE FOR FREEDOM and we do so as Rolling Thunder®, Inc. begins a new chapter in its long history – NATIONWIDE. Simply put – “The show must go on.”
Although the nationally-supported Ride for Freedom will end in 2019, Muller is encouraging individual events for the future.
"We will continue the POW/MIA mission through our 90 Rolling Thunder state chapters across America, coordinating demonstrations starting 2020 Memorial Weekend in their own states or joining forces with other state chapters," he wrote.
Local events also may generate news coverage closer to home, which only will further Rolling Thunder's goal of keeping POWs and MIAs in the public mind, he added.
"It's not really going to change," Patrick Hughes, a Vietnam veteran of the Marine Corps said. "Instead of going to Washington, it will be local. It may even be better because it will bring more attention locally..."
Declining Support, Sponsors And Increasing Costs Cited Among Reasons Demonstration Will Pass To Chapter States
FLBD received a joint letter from Artie Muller, Rolling Thunder® National Executive Director and Joseph Bean, National President. Below is the letter, unedited:
“Rolling Thunder® XXXII, “Ride For Freedom” will take place on May 26, 2019 in Washington, DC – the final Thunder Run in DC. This will be the last demonstration the organization does as a unit in Washington. It has been a hard decision to make, after much discussion and thought over the last six months Rolling Thunder National Officers have concluded to end our 32 year annual D.C. Memorial Weekend event.
“As a result of changing times the organization and Mission needed to be reorganized and reevaluated. Reasons which determined our decision were the Pentagon Security Police/Washington Police officials continued lack of cooperation, increased harassment to our supporters and sponsors. As demonstrated this past Rolling Thunder “Ride For Freedom” XXXI many of our supporters were diverted and prevented from entering the South Pentagon/Boundary Lots. Event staging costs have soared to $200,000.00 plus, lack of new Corporate Sponsor funding and the general public declined support of our event product sales (patches/pins/stick flags) in the Pentagon Lots.
Financial factors are draining the organization funds if we continued this major costly annual event in Washington.
“We will continue the POW/MIA Mission through our ninety Rolling Thunder State Chapters across America coordinating demonstrations starting 2020 Memorial Weekend in their own states, or joining forces with other state chapters. Hopefully, many supporters who could not make the trip to DC can participate in their state and we can get more media coverage on the state level on the POW/MIA issue than we received in DC. This will be the final mailing of our Rolling Thunder “Ride For Freedom” Washington, DC. See our website rollingthunder1.com periodically for updates regarding 2020 State Chapter “Ride For Freedom” demonstrations. Remember our POWs/MIAs, our Troops serving and God Bless the United States of America! Hope to see you at Rolling Thunder XXXII, “Ride For Freedom” the last thunder demonstration in Washington, DC.”
FLBD is saddened by this latest development and will continue to support the POW/MIA mission of “Never Forget” at the state level. We thank Artie, Joe and the entire Rolling Thunder organization for a job well done. Special thanks to Rolling Thunder, Inc. Media Chairperson, Nancy Regg, for always taking the time to speak with FLBD.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you have never participated in this annual demonstration you should plan to attend the final ride in Washington, D.C. in 2019. Be part of this historical and important event.